You might not think you need to see the dentist. Your smile sparkles. You don’t have any cavities, and your gums are healthy.
However, there are many reasons why you should still schedule regular dental cleanings and checkups, even if you think your teeth and gums are healthy.
Benefits of Regular Dental Cleanings
First, it’s important to understand the benefits of regular dental cleanings. People who get regular dental cleanings tend to enjoy:
- Fewer cavities
- Healthier gums
- Lower risk of tooth loss
- More attractive smiles
- Lower risk of cardiovascular problems
Tooth decay–called cavities or dental caries–occurs when oral bacteria on your teeth secrete acid that attacks the tooth enamel. While home hygiene is effective at reducing this, regular dental cleanings help, too.
Oral bacteria can also infect your gums. A small initial infection can grow to lead to poor oral and overall health. As with cavities, professional cleanings can reduce your risk of gum disease.
Tooth loss typically occurs because of either cavities or gum disease. Reducing your risk of these conditions will help you keep your teeth.
Professional cleanings can remove deposits on your teeth that can make them less attractive. A professional polish can also help remove surface pitting and discoloration to help your teeth shine beautifully.
Finally, it’s important to understand that oral health is important to your overall health. Studies show that regular dental cleanings can reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems by up to 14%. There are likely other benefits that have not yet been demonstrated, including lower risks of dementia, autoimmune disorders, and more.
Why You Can’t Tell How Much You Need a Cleaning
It’s also important to get regular dental cleanings because you likely can’t tell how much you need a cleaning. Here are some of the reasons why your mouth might need a professional cleaning much more than you think.
You Can’t See Your Entire Mouth
One of the biggest reasons why you don’t know the health of your mouth is that you can’t see your entire mouth. You can easily see the outer surfaces of your teeth–the ones closest to your lips and cheeks. However, it’s harder to see the chewing surfaces, especially on your upper teeth. It’s also hard to see the surfaces of your teeth closest to the tongue. Even if you get good at using a dental mirror, there are likely places in your mouth you can’t see, so it’s good to let someone else take a look at it.
You Can’t Smell Your Own Breath
You might think you know when you have bad breath. However, what you are sensing then is that you currently have worse breath than normal. If you have chronic bad breath–the kind that indicates oral health problems–you likely don’t smell it at all.
People around you might be too polite or embarrassed to mention it, but your dentist will be honest with you if your breath indicates a problem.
Oral Health Problems Have Subtle Symptoms
Even if you can see the places where oral health problems are developing, you might not notice them at first.
Gum disease can start as a slightly red or puffy area. It might not register to you that this is the beginning of a serious problem.
Tooth decay can look like several things at first. You might be looking for a dark spot on your teeth. Cavities can certainly look like that. However, a cavity can also begin as a white spot on the tooth, which might have a subtly different luster than your healthy tooth enamel. It’s easy to miss these if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Cavities can begin in places you don’t notice, with very small holes leading to larger internal cavities that cause tooth infections.
Tartar buildups start small, and you might not notice these buildups at first. By the time you do notice them, they are already contributing to oral health problems.
Your dentist is trained to identify the subtle signs of oral health problems. They can help you head them off when they’re easy to treat.
You Might Think Problems Are Normal
As with your breath, it can be hard to gauge your oral health because yours is the only one you know. You might think things are normal that are actually indicators of serious health problems.
For example, many people think that bleeding gums are normal. Other times people choose not to floss because it hurts, blaming the floss and not realizing that healthy gums don’t get hurt by flossing. The same with brushing your gums.
Other people think that if their teeth are getting longer, it’s because they’re growing, not that their gums are receding because of infection.
By the time you realize that what you’re experiencing isn’t normal, the problems may be quite serious, requiring significant dental treatments. A dentist knows what’s normal and what’s not, and they can tell if you have a problem.
Schedule Your Next Cleaning and Checkup in Irvine
If you are overdue for a dental cleaning and checkup–you should get at least one a year–Rice Dentistry is here to help.
Please contact us today for an appointment to get your teeth cleaned and checked out.